Today Marks the 100th Anniversary of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

by HB Auld

Today, Veterans Day 2021, is the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The three Unknown Soldiers from World War I, War II, and the Korean War, represent all of those who were killed in the service of our Nation.

Today is also Veterans Day, a day to express our gratitude to all current and former military men and women who serve and have served in the US Military. Veterans Day, formerly called “Armistice Day,” was established to be always celebrated on November 11 each year because the armistice ending the fighting of World War I went into effect at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in 1918. Traditionally since then, Americans have paused at 11:00 a.m. each November 11th to remember Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Guardsmen who served in all wars. A formal peace agreement was reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year.

The following description of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was published by the Association of the United States Army on February 2, 2021:

“In November, events will include a ceremony during which visitors may place flowers onto the tomb plaza. “This will be the first time in many years that the public will be allowed to walk across the tomb plaza and honor the unknowns at their gravesite,” said Charles Alexander, superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery.

“On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, there will be a full honors procession and a wreath-laying ceremony. 

“Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of Arlington National Cemetery on March 4, 1921, according to the cemetery’s website. US Army Sergeant Edward Younger, a World War I veteran who was wounded in combat, chose the Unknown Soldier from among four identical caskets.

“The tomb, which stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, has since come to symbolize the sacrifices of all U.S. service members. 

“Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”

UNKNOWN SOLDIER TOMB INSCRIPTION

“Its white marble sarcophagus, which stands above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War I, depicts three carved Greek figures representing peace, victory and valor. Inscribed on the back of the tomb are the words: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”

“To the west of the sarcophagus are the crypts for an Unknown Soldier from World War II and the Korean War. A crypt designated for the Vietnam Unknown was dedicated on Sept. 17, 1999.

“In 1926, Congress established a military guard to protect the tomb, and since July 2, 1937, the Army has maintained a 24-hour guard over the tomb. Sentinels from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) assumed those duties on April 6, 1948, and they have maintained a constant vigil ever since.

“Congressman Hamilton Fish, who in 1920 proposed the legislation to create the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, said, “It is hoped that the grave of this unidentified warrior will become a shrine of patriotism for all the ages to come, which will be a source of inspiration, reverence and love of country for future generations.”

For more information about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier centennial commemoration, visit www.arlingtoncemetery.mil.”

— Association of the United States Army